The Enemy Unseen

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar


This paper explores how China is represented in the popular and critically acclaimed Fallout series of role playing games. While the games are set in a post-apocalyptic United States of America an important part of the background and story is China as the main protagonist in conflicts which led to a nuclear war in 2077. This paper provides an early articulation of observations and ideas related to how China and the Chinese are represented in the series and why it matters. The paper argues that the Fallout series is important in two ways. First, it plays into existing long term patterns of othering China; and second, it builds on and projects the notion of China as a threat to the West. These two themes are discussed through an examination of two different aspects of the game. First, the background story to the games where China initially was an unspoken and unseen enemy which has steadily gained in significance and detail as the series has developed. Second, the representation of the Chinese as others in the game, typically as infiltrators, stealth enhanced assassins or “ghouls”. The paper concludes by situating the discussion of the Fallout series in the wider context of historical imaginings in games and the literature on China’s rise.
Period27 Nov 2014
Event typeOther